We recently started carrying a new brand of embroidery transfers at the store, from Portland's own, Stitcharama. Today we're introducing you to both the product and the founder, Jenn Sturiale! I love the 30-second video tutorials they offer, so handy when you need a reminder or to learn for the very first time, how to do a split stitch or French knot. You'll see a link below.
Bolt Neighborhood: We’d love to know a bit about your history as an illustrator/ designer. Are you a life-long fabric artist of some sort or did you discover it as an adult?
JS: While I’ve always been crafty, I’ve only come into the design side of things quite recently! As you’ll read below, my path to starting Stitcharama was a circuitous one - so while I’ve enjoyed decades as a Maker Of All The Things, my focus on and obsession with hand embroidery - and specifically with our Iron-On Embroidery Patterns - has deepened over the past 8 years or so.
BN: What was your path to pursuing this as a career? If this isn't your primary career, what was your path to launching the business?
JS: In 2010 I left my life as a native New Yorker behind, and went off to Central America to learn how to surf! About five months (and a paused return-ticket) later, I found myself living in a gorgeous town in the central mountain highlands of Mexico - far from the ocean but close to many traditional artists and craftspeople. Everywhere I turned, I was amazed by the creativity of weavers and knitters, potters and ceramicists, painters and sculptures - and embroiderers.
I was amazed that many of the hand-stitched goods I saw were in everyday use - those beautiful napkins, tablecloths and tortilla holders were a part of the fabric of everyday life. While I may stitch a pattern and hang it on the wall or make it into a prized pillow, I love it when handicrafts are functional, as well as decorative.
I’m also so incredibly lucky to have examples of embroidery stitched by my female ancestors, on both sides of my family. Some pieces I know who the artist was, while others I’ll never know. This sacred collection of embroidery from both the Polish/Jewish and Sicilian sides of my family is a reminder that just one or two generations back, we ALL have female ancestors who wove, knit, and embroidered the everyday goods around them.
Those traditions were often lost with immigration, diaspora, the Industrial Revolution and the rise of two-income families, but with just a piece of cloth, needle and thread and a cool embroidery pattern… it’s easy and fun to reclaim our roots and stitch our way back home.
BN: Tell us a bit about your collection of artists and designs.
JS: Our rotating family of artist partners is one of my favorite parts of Stitcharama! Most of our modern embroidery patterns are designed in-house, and our artist partnerships bring different cultures, perspectives and design sensibilities to the catalog. Since our very first partnership was launched, it’s been my top priority to create a licensing agreement that respects the artists: they retain the copyright to their work, and receive a royalty for every sale.
Our currently featured artists are Karin Holmberg (in Sweden) and Jennifer Mazzucco (in Northern California). I love discovering new artists to partner with - whether they’re embroidery designers or fine artists with an eye for line drawings, there are so many new types of patterns just waiting to be discovered.
BN: What are some of your favorite materials to work with when stitching?
JS: I keep it pretty simple! I prefer to use everyday, easy-to-find materials, so that no matter where I am I can keep on stitching. Lightweight canvas or even a simple, muslin, DMC embroidery floss, any type of hoop I can get my hands on, a nice pointy needle and a cool Iron-On Pattern - and I’m all set to stitch.
That said, I recently invested in a Morgan Lap Stand Combo Hoop (https://www.amazon.com/Morgan-Products-Stand-Combo-Hoops/dp/B000YZ3YIQ) and I love it! It’s perfect for when I’m shooting embroidery tutorial videos (http://stitcharama.com/videos/), and really helps reduce hand fatigue during long stitching sessions.
BN: What trends in design have you excited?
JS: I am simply floored by the amazingly creative embroidery I’m seeing on Instagram these days - artists and designers have completely changed the landscape and it’s now so easy to find endless inspiration! I love the irreverence I’m seeing a lot of lately - while embroidery designs used to be a lot of “cats in baskets wearing bonnets,” now we may find “half-chicken/half-woman wearing a monster mask.” I find this boundary-pushing incredibly inspiring.
BN: What are you working on right now?
JS: It’s one thing to be an embroiderer, and a whole other thing entirely to build a business around it! I’ve got dozens of new designs on the way, and all will be available as both Iron-On Transfers and PDF downloads. We’re also almost ready to launch our new website - this will be Stitcharama V4.0 :) We’re constantly releasing new 30-Second Embroidery Tutorials (http://stitcharama.com/videos/), as well - because there are just some times you need a quick lesson or refresher to get you stitching!
BN: We love to hear about locals’ favorite spots in town. What are some of your favorite haunts?
I’m a sucker for the happy hour at Ciao Vito, Salt and Straw’s Salted Caramel Ganache (always by the pint, which lets you skip the line entirely) and ALL of the ramen joints in town!